On December 5-6, 2018, the Executive Secretary of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) Ruud Jansen was in Angola to participate in a mini mission for Conservation Areas and National Parks of Angola in Luanda that also included an investment conference and park visits.
Mr. Jansen who represented GDSA and Conservation International (CI) joined the mini mission at the invitation of the Minister of Environment Dr. Paula Francisco to share insights on the opportunities for public-private partnerships to sustainably develop Angola's key conservation areas.
The event also involved representatives from the government of Angola, World Bank, International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), African Parks, Vulcan, National Geographic, donors, potential investors, tour operators, civil society, national and international Tourism Agents and media among others.
Among the key highlights of Mr. Jansen’s visit were the fruitful discussions he had with Minister Francisco and her advisers and officials on enhancing cooperation between the Government of Angola and the GDSA, including the country’s considerations to join the 13-member intergovernmental initiative in the near future.
“GDSA/CI are keen to support the government of Angola in the conservation and sustainable development of the critical Okavango Basin through natural capital accounting and sustainable tourism, as part of regional cooperation involving Namibia and Botswana,” said Mr. Jansen.
He added: “GDSA could provide the platform for cooperation amongst the three countries. Our suggested pilot or start-up activity would be to do a natural capital mapping exercise of the Okavango Basin.”
The GDSA Executive Secretary expressed appreciation about Angola’s plans and activities within the Okavango Basin as well as in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) including the proposed investments in removing landmines in the Luengue-Luiana National Park saying it will create an enabling environment for ecosystem restoration and sustainable tourism.
He also supported developments under the auspices of the Okavango-Zambezi Watershed Initiative (OZWI) saying GDSA/CI would be keen to work with partners to contribute to realizing the OZWI aspirations in cooperation with National Geographic and under the guidance of the Government of Angola.
On her part, Minister Francisco expressed her appreciation for the GDSA/CI’s participation in the mini mission and confirmed her government’s interest in boosting cooperation with respect to sustainable development of the Okavango basin.
At the request of the Minister, Mr. Jansen delivered a short message to the investment conference on the GDSA and the link between the value of natural capital and investment in conservation and sustainable tourism.
Dr. Francisco highlighted GDSA/CI in various discussions with her peer ministers as part of the investment conference including Angola’s Minister of State and Chief of the Civil House in the Presidency, Mr Frederico Manuel dos Santos e Silva Cardoso whom was introduced to the GDSA and presented with a Portuguese version of the Gaborone Declaration for his appreciation.
Furthermore, the Minister reiterated her interest in a south-south exchange between Angola and Costa Rica, at the invitation of environment Minister Carlos Manuel Rodriguez of Costa Rica, which GDSA/CI will fund to provide an opportunity for key senior officials of the government to engage in such areas as payment for ecosystem services, ecosystem management, park management and sustainable tourism.
The Minister also expressed her interest to visit Botswana, tentatively in the first quarter of 2019, at the invitation of her counterpart for Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Hon. Tshekedi Khama. The visit would discuss cooperation in the Okavango Basin, the upcoming CITES Conference of Parties (COP) as well as Angola’s membership to GDSA among other key subjects.
During the Angola visit, Mr. Jansen also met Mr Vlady Russo who is heading a Presidential Commission and is leading efforts to establish a special unit to coordinate integrated development in the Okavango region.
Russo expressed support for GDSA’s involvement in the Okavango Basin and agreed that Natural Capital Mapping (NCA) would be a constructive exercise in line with the government planning and implementation needs for sustainable development activities, said Ruud.